Today I’m talking about what can be a sensitive subject, fasting and eating disorders and binge eating. On occasion I have clients who are hesitant to fast because of a fear of creating, triggering or accelerating an eating disorder, or who know they have a tendency to binge eat. These are valid concerns and worth considering when thinking about creating a fasting lifestyle.
While certainly fasting may not be for everyone, there is a way you can mindfully and healthfully integrate fasting into your lifestyle. So I’ve put together 6 things to think about when creating a fasting lifestyle.
First Step when to consider with fasting and eating disorders:
Involve your mental health practitioner. This doesn’t just apply to eating disorders, but people with any kind of chronic or medical condition. If you want to succeed at fasting, creating open lines of communication and collaboration with your health care team is important when deciding whether a fasting lifestyle is right for you.
If you have an eating disorder or think you might have one, and are not currently working with a health practitioner, I recommend you STOP here and come back after you’ve gathered your health care support team.
Second Step when to consider with fasting and eating disorders:
Understand how foods affect the brain. Foods are a state changer, meaning that food creates a neurochemical change in the brain. We reach for food because it makes us feel better. This is because it stimulates dopamine, the hormone connected to pleasure and reward. But there are other ways to get that same dopamine rush. In fact, I did a whole Fast Training Week designed to reset neurotransmitters in the brain called the Happiness Fast. This is a 5 day fasting experience and a great resource to come back to when you’re ready!
Now, there are two Resetter Podcast episodes that I recommend you listen to. The first is with food psychologist Autumn Smith, where she talks about how you can integrate healthy “state changers” into your day when you know you are planning to fast.
The second episode I want you to listen to is The Resetter Podcast with Katie Wells, you might know her as The Wellness Mama. Katie shared her own journey with the emotional side of weight gain and how she used fasting and diet variation to overcome the emotional trauma that was leading to her binge eating and eating disorder.
Third Step when to consider with fasting and eating disorders:
Start slow and stay comfortable. If you know you have an emotional relationship with food, start slow and stay comfortable. I recommend starting with Intermittent Fasting, getting comfortable with 13-15 hours of fasting. This is a great place to stay while you work through any emotional patterning that may arise.
Fourth Step when to consider with fasting and eating disorders:
Use diet variation. If you have a tendency to become compulsive or too rigid with fasting, I recommend integrating more diet variation. Variation is not only great for your health but the process of going in and out of fasting and changing the fasting and eating styles can create more flexibility and less rigidity around fasting one particular way. Another reason why I love diet variation is because it resets dopamine pathways, so that you get more happiness and pleasure from smaller things.
Fifth Step when to consider with fasting and eating disorders:
Have an eating plan. Have an eating plan for how you will break your fast, in order to avoid binge or impulse eating. I recommend a 4 phase approach. First, break your fast with a good fat, like avocado or nut butter. Second, eat probiotic foods like sauerkraut or yogurt. Third, steamed veggies and fourth, meat. This will help transition you smoothly into your eating window.
Sixth Step when to consider with fasting and eating disorders:
Fall in love with healthy, good food. How can you look at food as an ally and a means to health? Fasting is great because it can reset taste buds, cravings and habits so you can better appreciate simple, healthy foods. For example, fermented foods can be so yummy. I have a profound appreciation for seasonal vegetables and fruits from my local Farmer’s Market. Also, I recommend following people who promote healthy, balancing eating. Some of my favorites are Maria Emmerich and Anna Vicino, we love her cookbook Eat Happy.
If you are new to fasting, and you are concerned about this topic, grab my Beginner’s Guide to Fasting to start the education process. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the fasting journey.
My monthly Fast Training Week experiences are a great way to try fasting in a supportive group setting. If you are looking for a more hands on experience, join my upcoming Fat Burner Reset.